Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an arraignment?
2. What is a preliminary examination?
3. What is a pretrial hearing?
4. Who do I contact if I have questions about a case?
5. Where do I go if I want to post bond for someone being arraigned at the 36th District Court?
What is an arraignment?
After your arrest on a felony or misdemeanor, you first appear in court for arraignment. During your arraignment, the court tells you the specific criminal charges being brought against you, whether or not you are eligible to be released on bond, and the amount of the bond. If you can not afford an attorney, you may ask the court to appoint one for you.
Arraignments at 36D are held in Room 1067 in front of a magistrate. Misdemeanor arraignments are held Monday through Friday at 9:00 a.m. Arraignments for felonies are held by video at 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If arrested for a misdemeanor, the Detroit Police Department precinct station immediately allows you to post a cash bond. You are then directed to appear at the 36th District Court on a given date for the arraignment. You must go to room 1020 in the Madison Building and sign in with the clerk at the window by 8:30 a.m. You will then be sent to Room 1067 for arraignment.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor and your arraignment is held before a judge, you may enter a guilty plea. If you plead guilty, you can be sentenced at this time. If you plead not guilty, the judge then notifies you of your pretrial date.
If you are arrested for a felony, you are arraigned by video either at Detroit Police Department Precinct or police headquarters. Felony arraignments begin at 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. weekdays. Felony arraignments are held before a magistrate who sets a date and bond for a preliminary exam. The preliminary exam must be scheduled within 14 calendar days following the arraignment. You are interviewed by the Wayne County Pre-trial Services Unit to determine if you are eligible for a Personal Bond, and then released to appear on your preliminary examination date. If you are not eligible for a bond or cannot post it, you are sent to the Wayne County Jail until your examination date.
What is a preliminary examination?
If you have been arrested and arraigned for felony violation, the next step in the legal process is to appear before a district court judge for a preliminary examination. A representative of the Wayne County Prosecutor's office will be in court to present its case against you. The judge then decides whether or not there is sufficient evidence to believe that you have committed the crime for which you have been charged. You should have legal counsel present to represent you at this hearing. If you signed an appointment of counsel form at or following your arraignment, an attorney appointed by the presiding judge or criminal division will be present to represent you.
If the judge determines that there is not sufficient evidence against you to go to trial, he/she dismisses the case. If the judge determines that there is sufficient evidence to go to trial, he/she binds you over to 3rd Circuit Court for Arraignment on the Information (AOI). That hearing is set by the district court judge for a date at least 14 days following your preliminary exam. Your case file is sent to 3rd Circuit Court the following day, where it is given a new file number. At this point, direct all questions about your case to 3rd Circuit Court, County Clerks Office, since district court jurisdiction for your case ends after the preliminary examination.
What is a pretrial hearing?
For individuals arrested and arraigned on misdemeanor violations, the pretrial examination is the next stage of the legal process. If your arraignment hearing was conducted by a magistrate, now will be your opportunity to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest); for arraignments before a judge, you have already entered a plea. You have the right to be represented by legal counsel at this hearing. If you signed an appointment of counsel at this hearing. If you signed an appointment of counsel form at or following your arraignment, an attorney appointed by the presiding judge or the criminal division will be present to represent you.
If you plead guilty, sentencing can occur now or after the judge has reviewed a report and recommendation prepared by court staff, otherwise, an assistant prosecutor presents the state's case, your attorney presents your case, and the judge determines the sufficiency of evidence. If there is enough evidence against you to go to trial, the court will ask whether you want a jury trial or a trial before a judge alone (bench trial). In either case, the court sets the trial date and mails you a notice.
Who do I contact if I have questions about a case?
For questions about arraignments, contact:
The 36th District Court Criminal Division
Room 120, 421 Madison
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Phone: (313) 965-5029
All you need is the arrested person's name. If that individual is scheduled to appear for arraignment, you will be given the case number and day and time of arraignment. Twice a day (approximately 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.), the criminal division receives a listing of arraignments.
If your question criminal concerns something other than an criminal arraignment, you must have the case number in order to receive assistance.
Where do I go if I want to post bond for someone being arraigned at the 36th District Court?
Criminal bond posting can be done at 36th District Court Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. At all other times, you can post bond at the Wayne County Jail.